Nearly one of every five vehicles is used for commercial purposes — a statistic that has caught the eye of at least one major manufacturer, Nissan.
“Eighteen percent of vehicles sold are commercial, and Nissan would like to capture some of that percentage,” said Michael Goins, commercial vehicle accounts manager for Carriage Nissan at 2400 Browns Bridge Road in Gainesville. “So, that’s part of the reason Nissan is pushing now to do the commercial side.”
Carriage climbed on the bandwagon Jan. 1, offering a variety of such vehicles, including cargo and 12-passenger vans.
The vehicles are geared to businesses that rely on them as part of their works, such as painters, electricians and landscapers.
“We have one ourselves,” Goins said. “All the Nissan dealers have them as parts delivery vans.”
The dealership, which is near Old Flowery Branch Road, carries 20 or more commercial vehicles on the lot, but Nissan “wants us to carry 40-60.”
“We’re receiving them every day, so we’re stocking up,” Goins said. “We’d like to move 40-60 a month — that would be great.”
To sell commercial vehicles, Carriage had to jump through some hoops, including a certain number of signs and parking spaces devoted to the venture.
“Nissan has a checklist of minimum requirements,” Goins said.
One of the biggest is that the dealership’s parts and service departments must be in sync with the line of vehicles.
“We had to buy the (proper) lift and have the certified mechanics on staff to be able to service them,” Goins said.
So now, for the first time, Carriage also can service commercial vehicles.
Because the number of Nissan commercial dealers is sparse, Carriage is drawing customers from a wide area, Goins said.
“The farthest I’ve had someone purchase from me is Knoxville, Tenn., but (customers) also keep (coming) in from Alabama … and the Carolinas,” he said. “I delivered one to Murphy, N.C. (north of Blue Ridge).
“I guess there’s a definite need that’s being met.”
One of his most recent customers was Jeff Chambers. He and co-founder Chris Hagen make custom furniture as part of their business, Wood Mill Lab, in Atlanta.
They decided to buy a Nissan NV2500 cargo van based on a positive experience Hagen had with a Nissan pickup truck he had leased.
“He wanted to stay with that brand because he was familiar with it,” Chambers said. “And quite frankly, the cargo van Nissan is offering … is one of the best-looking ones out there.”
After a negative experience with a local dealer, Chambers searched the Internet for other dealers and came across Carriage.
Goins agreed to meet him at the Mall of Georgia with the vehicle, and a deal was struck.
So far, so good. “We’re very pleased with (the vehicle),” Chambers said.